Most organizations today understand the positive impact of educated, motivated, and dedicated employees towards their tenure and performance, which is why so many now offer training and education benefits. While the digital format of e-learning courses has widened access and lowered cost, retention of what they have learned is directly tied to learner engagement. Continue reading to see how organizations are optimizing their training investment by focusing on models that emphasize engagement as a necessary tactic for impactful and effective goal achievement.
According to a recent report, 77 percent of U.S. companies offer e-learning in their professional development programs. Compare that majority with only four percent of organizations in 1995, and you see the huge increase in this investment. While the emphasis on ongoing education for employees is important, it must also be effective and cost-effective for the organization to justify the investment.
The move toward e-learning courses over traditional classroom environments meets the demands of modern learners. While brick-and-mortar training is still relevant and can be effective, e-learning provides benefits that a typical classroom cannot. Regardless of the format, both methods must engage learners in order to deliver on expected outcomes and level of retention.
If you’ve ever attended a required training that is not relevant to your daily responsibilities you may have had trouble staying alert and engaged. If you had to prove proficiency after attending the training, you may not have done as well as expected, or completely forgot relevant information within a couple days or weeks.
It’s this type of scenario that organizations want to avoid, as they seek ways to optimize the ROI on their training investments. When learners are not engaged in the subject matter they are less likely to retain expected outcomes and it quickly becomes forgotten, thereby making the training irrelevant. Additionally, there are many factors that can influence engagement from subject matter to the style of the instructor, to individual relevance, or even individual preference.
We’re not all suited for sitting and listening. Some learn better by doing, watching, teaching, researching, playing a game, or interactively working through a situation. The challenge for corporations is how to deliver knowledge in a way that fits their diverse workforce. Engagement must be a key focus to successfully upskill employees without putting too much strain on an organization’s resources.
Because customization is a staple of e-learning, corporations are better able to connect curriculum and employees for increased engagement and thereby retention and growth. Here are just some of the ways e-learning courses are able to engage learners:
#1: Digital format.
At this point, most people are a more comfortable reading of a smartphone or tablet rather than a physical book. We’ve adapted to digesting information in a digital format and understand the tools, symbols, and prompts to make the most of what’s provided. E-learning capitalizes on this level of comfort by providing curriculum in the avenue most people have become accustomed.
Using a familiar, and often times, the chosen method of delivery increases the likelihood that content will be absorbed by the learner. Conversely, traditional methods may automatically put a roadblock between the curriculum and some learners. They may appear disinterested, unmotivated, or unwilling to gain new skills when the real challenge is just accessing the information.
#2: Asynchronous capability.
Not all e-learning courses are asynchronous, but most have the capability for flexibility in time and location. Engagement can be hard to achieve if employees are stressed about getting to class at a certain time; having their workday interrupted by an inflexible schedule; or incurring extra costs for childcare, parking, or travel.
E-learning allows employees to complete their coursework on their own schedule and in the environment that works best for them. Whether that be early in the morning before work, late at night after work, during lunch, in a coffee shop, bed, or at their desk — it’s up to them. Similar to the digital format, learners are also more engaged when they get to choose the time and place that works best for their individual preference.
#3: Learning style variety.
Think back to that mandatory training mentioned earlier…did you picture an instructor talking over presentation slides? Chances are that’s the format you’re most familiar with and that’s traditionally how training is set up. But as was mentioned, the ‘talk and listen’ method is not for everyone and may lead to a decrease in engagement and subsequent retention.
E-learning’s digital format and asynchronous capability can allow learners the opportunity to choose the method best suited for them. Kinesthetic learners, for example, may be able to interact with course materials using whiteboard technology or scenario-based lessons. Visual and auditory learners may prefer video content, and traditional learners can continue with presentation slides in a lecture style.
Of course not every e-learning course will offer the same learning style options, but the point is that it could.
#4: Adaptive curriculum paths.
Another option that increases engagement is meeting the learner where they are. In a classroom format, all students are taught the same materials at the same time. If an e-learning course utilizes adaptive curriculum paths, learners may bypass content they’ve already mastered, or spend additional time on more difficult subjects.
Again, the interactive technology of e-learning courses allows students a more individualized experience for higher engagement and knowledge retention. This is also beneficial to organizations for the purpose of ensuring employees have the knowledge necessary to handle associated responsibilities. Similarly, the adaptive curriculum can highlight where an employee needs assistance in order to better achieve expected outcomes.
Corporations utilizing e-learning strategies have the pleasure of speed and agility in training. The digital format can be easily manipulated based on employee feedback related to engagement or requests for additional customization. Anonymous e-surveys can also be incorporated into training programs to secure feedback from course participants such as the relevancy of content and learning exercises, and applicability towards increasing job performance.
Technology allows us to work quickly, change with our constantly evolving industries, and continue to adapt with employees to have the biggest impact in achieving business goals. E-learning facilitates achievement while providing optimal resources in ways that best meet the needs of today’s diverse employees.
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